In this chapter, I explore some of the conceptual ideas that guided this research. In particular, I question the significance of its grounding in actor-network theory (ANT), and what this means for the way the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, intellectual property (IP) and pharmaceutical patents are conceptualized in this research. I start by explaining in some detail the key ideas of ANT, focusing on the elements that are particularly relevant to this research, and on some of its controversies. I then turn more specifically to TRIPS and question its historical constitution as an assemblage, and how it has become shaped over the years into the complex multidimensional entity that now travels the globe. I conclude by summarizing the way in which this conceptualization of TRIPS and patents is played out in the following chapters.
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